Day 9 – Part I – San Mateo Tree Planting

It’s January 4th, 2014 and today we are getting away from the noise and hustle bustle of the city and visiting the beautiful region of San Mateo.

So much quieter here compared to the constant car honking in Manila
This is the name of the ANCOP community in San Mateo
There’s a drastic difference in terms of space available here v.s.  our current build site
01 - Mano
We pay our respects to the elders of the community – Mano Po
We start our day off in prayer
Before we start tree planting we learn a little bit about this community
It’s so nice to be in the country side
We are given instructions how to plant
First we have to take the seedling out of the bag
Second is to place it inside the pre-dug hole and fill it with soil
We are planting dragon fruit
Which looks like a catus
In order to plant dragon fruit, all you have to do is to take a branch off the main cactus and it’ll grow on it’s own if nourished
It’s good to be working outside in the fresh air
A good little break from mixing and carrying hollow cinder blocks
We have to be a little careful because the cactus is a little prickly
Last step is to water it
Either with a bucket or by hand
And there you go. That’s how you plant dragon fruit
This is Michael’s dad standing beneath a cashew tree
We head off the cliff to see the scenery and take some pictures
Philippines Service Trip group of 2013-14
Wacky Wacky (said in a Tagalog accent)
Hooray for leadership!
Hooray for Jesus!
Drastic comparison to the cramped life in the city
This is the life!
We’re posing at the outdoor chapel
Today we will be celebrating mass with Father Balano
This chapel was not built when last year’s group visited San Mateo
This is our “fierce” pose
Fierce pose #2
This is the Mike pose (thumbs up)
This is a beautiful place to worship
Father Balano pray for us
These are dragon fruit that were planted about six months ago
This scene depicts Jesus’ first miracle, the wedding a Cana where Jesus turns water into wine
These are called the “Canada Houses” since the financial sponsors for this row of houses were from Canada hence the colour scheme
Next stop: down to the river to fetch some water
As we get lower, it gets steeper
Good thing we were instructed to wear proper shoes
We would never make it down if we wore sandals or tsinelas
Halfway there
We enter a bamboo forest
This is what bamboo looks like when it’s alive
It gets even steeper
Some of us have to hold hands on the way down
A closer look at the bamboo – much different colour than when it’s dried
This is a great shot showing you all the bamboo trees surrounding us
We make it to the river
Time to fetch some water
That trek was harder than playing 2 quarters of basketball
Way harder than 9 innings of baseball
It’s beautiful and peaceful down here
Feeling the water on your feet is really refreshing
Now back up the hill
Going down with empty water jugs was easier
We make it to the top
As more funding comes in, more houses can be built
These houses have a million dollar view
This plot of land is the footprint for a row of 5 houses which is equivalent to the size of a garage and driveway back in Toronto
In San Mateo, they build houses using different technology
Rather then using hollow cinder blocks, they use this form board reinforced with wire
This board is then plastered to give it a smooth finish
Apparently faster, stronger, and even cheaper than the traditional way
Time for lunch. Shaelyn leads us in grace
02 - Food
Erica’s favourite – Chicken Wings!
Speaking of chicken – This rooster is giving us his fierce pose
Vida holding our dessert
Time to play with the kids. First we all introduce ourselves and our favourite food.
Jairuz and Alyssa are our official Tagalog emcees
Danielle performs, “Let it snow” and “Feliz Navidad”
Erica also sings accapella (yuke left at hotel)
03 - Hokey Pokey
We teach them the Hokey Pokey –
Put your left hand in, put your left hand out, and shake it all about”
The bird dance is next
And then our favourite, “Follow da Leader”
“Wave your hands from left to right”
We’re really bring Caribana to San Mateo with the song Palance
Palance to the right!
Palance to the left
The flags come out, Danielle and British are really into it now
Next dance is lead by Joe and Alanna – Jump on it!
“Jump on it” is a Camp Olympia favourite
Cha Cha slide is next
And we end off with “Waving Flag”
Bringing Camp O to San Mateo (it rhymes)
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh……
This is my favourite part of the dance
The kids and adults all follow along
I love this picture of everyone dancing (and hugging) together
We are the Student Leadership travelling roadshow!
We break up into small groups and start with Stella ella ola
No matter how many times we play this game, the kids really love Stella
They love Duck Duck Goose even more
Those aren’t ducks or geese
Next game is Huckle Buckle
Everyone goes ear to ear, even Katrina and Father Balano 🙂
Huckle buckle…..heart to heart
Finger to nose
Huckle Buckle…….man on a horse
We play snakes and ladders next
It was really tight but we made it work
This shows you the distance you had to run
You had to run on the outside…
And through the middle on the inside
The last activity is gift giving
It feels good to give
Thank you Mother Teresa for your toothbrush and paste drive
I want that one
Kids looking at each others presents
We also have gifts for the adults
But first they have to limbo to earn it 🙂
Everyone is having a blast
Vida our ANCOP rep who is with us daily gets into the action
Lining up to wait their turn as we get lower and lower
Mike gives it a try
That’s what good co-op students are for 🙂
Yeah right dad! 🙂
04 - baseball
Lindsay donates this t-ball set to the community
Hi Fives before we load the bus

Now we are off to visit last year’s build site Avanai one last time.  Check out Day 9 – Part II.

Thanks for following our travels.  Write us a comment below.

16 thoughts on “Day 9 – Part I – San Mateo Tree Planting

  1. Wow! San Mateo is a very beautiful countryside. The treck for water looked like hard work but with beautiful scenery. How often do they need to make that journey up and down to obtain water?

    I can’t believe you only have a few more days in the Philippines. Even though I have been following your exploits through all these amazing photos Michael has been taking I can’t wait to hear about your first hand experiences upon your return.

    Keep up the great work everyone.

    1. The water we got is only for washing clothes, watering plants, bathing and construction. Before the houses were built, fetching water was a daily tasks. Now, the homes that are fully completed have running water but in order to save on consumption, trips to the river are still made

  2. It was really nice visiting San Mateo. I prefer the rural areas rather than the city because it’s more peaceful and the fullness of creation can be seen in its true beauty. The air is fresh, the grass is greener, and the view is great. I enjoyed the tree planting too! The hardest part of the day was our journey to the river to fetch water for some families in the ANCOP site. It was very steep so it was hard going down but the real challenge was when we went back up with water jugs in our hands or on our heads. My calves were hurting and I was so tired! I had to remind myself of perseverance and our purpose which was to help the locals in whatever way we could. The food was amazing; the best Filipino food ive had thus far. The children were much more shy than the kids in the city but they were great and sweet. I had a great time dancing and playing games with them.

  3. I loved the country side! San Mateo’s view overlooking the city was amazing. It took a whole for us to get there so to pass the time is leaders played games, dare or dare with the teachers, ’twas fun. I enjoyed planting the starfruit but was a little disappointed because there was not a lot to plant. I wanted to plant a field! I can definitely say that the food was the best lunch I’ve had this far in the Philippines. I was excited to go by the river to fill up the buckets and bring it back to the community but I was not prepared for what to come. Going up the hill was challenging but with perseverance the group delivered water for the community! The vibe of the kids were great. They were more chill than the others but easier to deal with. All in all it was a great day.

  4. It was such a great change of scenery visiting San Mateo. Who knew you could find a place as beautiful as that, not too very far from the busy streets of Manila. Planting dragon fruit trees is such a great way to help the people of San Mateo economically as they can sell what they grow and eat it too!

    Playing games and giving gifts to the children was such a nice feeling. It’s so nice to see that we are the ones who are helping the children as well as their families to smile.

    I hope to visit again in the future and hopefully our trees will be bearing plenty of fruit!

  5. Visiting San Mateo was a bit different from the other communities we have been to. There was not as much people in their community compared to our build site, El Dorado, or at Avanai. Despite this, they still welcomed us with open hearts and great food. The tree planting activity was a lot shorter than I expected… I thought we would be planting for hours but it only lasted a few minutes. The dragon fruits were a pain to plant because I didn’t know they were prickly so I got hurt a couple of times. It was definitely a struggle going up and down steep hills carrying heavy jugs of water. A few minutes of working out during our classes at the school board at least paid off!

    Although the kids were very shy, our activities with them was fun as usual. We tried to make them feel more comfortable by starting off with dancing and it kind of worked. Playing with these kids make me feel happy because we are all able to put a smile on each other’s faces.

    I’d love to see the outcome of our dragon fruits in a few months!

  6. San Mateo was a beautiful place! Though not a very large community in comparison with the other places we’ve visited , it was still evident that they were just as close as the others. Walking down to the river and getting water was pretty tough, but as usual, our group pulled together and made it back safely. It took some time for the kids to warm up to us but after a few games, they were like our little brothers and sisters. It’s always nice to see the smiles on their faces.

  7. San Mateo is very different compared to cities in the Philippines. I am adjusted to living in a city, so I cannot imagine living the lifestyle of the people within this community. They live simply by bathing and washing clothes in a river stream, for example, and eating a lot of their foods from what they plant. After seeing the lifestyle they live, I only think of one thing: I make my life in Canada so complicated. There are many things that don’t matter and I shouldn’t stress as much. Surely I will take this lesson back with me to Canada. It was truly a great experience visiting San Mateo.

  8. San Mateo was beautiful! Despite being high up on a mountain, the weather was just as hot. I would have loved to just climb a tree and enjoy the breathtaking view. Walking down to the river to fetch water, however, was a different kind of breathtaking. I could have sweat enough to fill one of the jugs! Seeing the more advanced building techniques made me very happy. Communities are finding safer, faster, and cheaper ways to build, and I hope that the same techniques can be translated to communities all over. Here’s to the brighter future!

  9. San Mateo is a very unique place compare to other places in the Philippines. San Mateo showed us different things to enjoy while visiting the place, such as the new statue, new houses for the people, mangoes, and the river stream. Also, San Mateo showed me their simply lifestyle, such as eating from what they planted and doing their laundry in the river stream. This simply lifestyle in San Mateo taught me how to be satisfied on what I have.

  10. San Mateo was a much more quiet and smaller community on the hills. The scenery was really beautiful and it gave a nice sense of peace. The most memorable part of this day was the getting water. Since the river stream was at the bottom of the mountain, we had to go a short but somewhat steep path to get there. Bringing the water jug up was a bit tiring and it taught me to be grateful for having even simpler things like running clean water.

  11. SAN MATEO!! It was amazing!!! Learning about how they built their units and how different it was in comparison to how AKC built was interesting. This com minty had a much easier way of building and I hope that the AKC will get a chance to build this way in the near future. Also, getting water in the stream that wasn’t to far down the mountain was also very interesting because as we were walking down to the stream they showed us how close they were to how close they were to the richest people ever but they had nothing. That was very interesting to me. Tree planting was also every fun because I knew that it would help them in the future! San Mateo was very fun!

  12. San Mateo had the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. The place looked like it could be a computer desktop. We were greeted very warmly there and the place was surrounded by mango and peanut plants. I’m glad we got to get our hands dirty and plant dragon fruit because now we have something to look forward to. I hope we can return to San Mateo to see our plants. Their method of building homes was much more efficient than the brick method we were using so I hope AKC starts to use this method.

    The best part of being there was going to the river to get water. I didn’t expect the trek down to be so steep but the bamboo plants were so pretty to look at. After falling twice it was a relief to make it to the river and it was even more beautiful at the bottom. Putting my feet in the water made me feel connected to the earth and cooled my body down.

    The food was one of the best meals of the entire trip and dancing with the kids was so much fun. Props to the older people of the community for participating in limbo, they really earned those toothbrushes! San Mateo made me realize that the simple things in life can bring people together.

  13. San Mateo was very different from all the other communities we’ve been too. It was a quiet, small, unique community that sat on a beautiful mountainside with gorgeous views. San Mateo was just so serene and peaceful. Planting the dragon fruits was a lot of fun and knowing that it’ll help them made me happy. Life at San Mateo was so simple. Daily essentials like bathing, washing clothes and even drinking water were all done from a nearby stream. Going to the stream was a journey through steep hills. It was beautiful down at the stream. Filling up the jugs and bringing them back up to the community made me realize how much I take for granted the quick and clean access to water back in Toronto. When it came down to play with the kids, all of them were like brothers and sisters because it was such a small community. I can’t forget about that blessed chicken we had to eat. San Mateo was an eye opener and showed me that the best things in life are for free!

  14. As you can see great emails like this are kept for a very long time.

    God Bless all those who attended this year and should there be one in the upcoming year, God bless all those who will attend.

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